Fireworks Magazine Online 73 - Interview with C.O.P. UK


Ant Heeks speaks to Kev Tonge

Sheffield-based Crimes Of Passion are gearing up to release their excellent third album 'No Place For Heaven', produced by Sascha Paeth (Avantasia), through German label UDR. The line-up of vocalist Dale Radcliffe, drummer Kev Tonge, guitarists Charles Staton and Andrew Mewse and bassist Scott Jordan have recently been augmented with former Jaded Heart keyboard player Henning Wanner. To find out why they have slightly re-branded their name and headed in a more commercial direction to their previous work, Fireworks got in touch with drummer and founding member Kev Tonge.

COP-UK Interview

'No Place For Heaven' is an absolutely phenomenal album, you must be extremely proud of it?

It's taken three years of seriously hard work and compromise because it's the first time we've worked with a producer to this extent, where we write the songs in our normal way, sent them to Sascha and in some cases he's ripped them to pieces and then sent them back, and we've thought "Oh God, what's he done?!" You look at each other in the rehearsal room and think, "We preferred our version!" But that's because you get so attached to what you've done as a song-writer, you don't look at the bigger picture. Then you begin to realise that Sascha has done the right thing and you go with it. So Dale was flying backwards and forwards and finishing the vocals, adding bits, choirs were going on, then when the songs came back we realised we had learnt a valuable lesson ̶ you've got to trust a producer that you're paying a lot of money to work with, but when the guy's done Avantasia, Edguy and Kamelot and they keep going back to him album after album, he knows what he's on about. He's the nicest guy you would ever want to meet, he's so down to earth and he loves the British! That's kind of the reason we got to work with him in the first place, because he'd never worked with a British band before. He's really behind the album, he's done a lot to help us get to where we are.

Would you say it was a lot more accessible than your previous album?

It's commercial. There is some heavy shit on there which our manager Leo wasn't too fussy about, but we said, "But it's not us if we don't put the Avenged Sevenfold-type stuff on there that we love and that we're known for." Admittedly it's not as heavy as the last album and there's a lot of orchestration and backing, but you've still got the Avenged sound and the riffs that Charles comes up with, but some of the slower songs are very anthemic in places.

Was that intentional?

Because the last album was well received and we loved it, we kind of set off on this album with the same approach, like "we need to write another 'Blown Away', we need to write another 'Body And Soul', what we didn't have on the last album was "this" type of song so we need to make sure we put that on." So Charles went away and came up with the riffs and worked them into the songs, Dale put the melodies to it, humming nonsense before he gets the lyrics like most bands do, then we jam it up and structure the songs. I'm a big Melodic Rock fan, but A7X are my favourite band in the world, and I looked at what we've got and thought we were missing a couple of heavier tunes, we needed to concentrate on those. But when they came back from Sascha they were more commercialised and had the heaviness taken away. The overall plan from Leo, hence the name change to C.O.P. U.K., was to aim for the German audience with this album, the management, the label, they're all in Germany, the market's there for a British band so that's the angle they're aiming at, that was Sascha's brief from Leo – aim at the German and Scandinavian market predominantly. So Sascha changed a lot of the songs substantially to make them more commercial, and then he came back with what will be the single, 'Catch Me If You Can', a real up-tempo, catchy tune, that was Sascha's song. He wrote that for Kissin' Dynamite but they didn't want to do it, then it was offered to Saxon but I phoned Biff and asked if we could have it! So it wasn't intentional, it just panned out that way.

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So how exactly does the name change work for you?

We're still Crimes Of Passion but we've just abbreviated everything into C.O.P. U.K. It's purely to target the German market, the German's particularly love British bands because in their eyes it's where it all started. Let's be honest, if you take The Scorpions, Helloween and Rammstein out of it, they've not a lot else, so there is an opportunity there for a new British band to break through. C.O.P. U.K. is easier for people to remember, the logo looks great on a T-shirt but we're still Crimes Of Passion to those who already know us.

Why did you decide to bring in a keyboard player?

Dale and I have been friends with Henning since our first European tour in 2006 with White Lion when Henning was the keyboard player. He's such a nice, down to earth guy, first an foremost he's got a great voice. A lot of the stuff that Sascha was sending back to us had all this orchestration, keyboard parts and choirs on, and we decided we didn't want to be playing live to backing tracks but we want to be able to replicate the sounds as much as possible live, so we decided to ask Henning and all the stars aligned. He'd finished with Jaded Heart, he's now playing with Circle II Circle, but he's not doing too much with them now as Zak Stevens looks to be involved with the Savatage reunion and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It just felt right.

So what touring plans have you got?

The album will be out January 22nd, and we're doing an album release party at the Corporation in Sheffield on the 23rd. Then we go out with Helloween throughout Europe at the end of January into February, we've got the Full Metal Mountain which is a new concept where they take over an Alpine Ski resort in the Austrian Alps where you get three thousand Metal Heads drinking beer, trying to ski, breaking legs and watching Metal bands! We're trying to play the same day as Avantasia so Sascha can get up with us and do the single. We've also got a lot of the festivals coming in, we're doing the Wacken Cruise in September and we've also been confirmed for Wacken 2017.

The UK hasn't really woken up to what C.O.P. have to offer. Why do you think that is?

Good question. When we toured with W.A.S.P. in 2012 we were the only support and we were playing to two or three thousand people every night. We shifted twelve hundred CDs in thirteen shows. People were coming up and saying, "Fantastic band, we'd never heard of you before", but it's probably our fault that we've never really done anything since then to keep that momentum going. We still keep getting people on FaceBook now we're doing the social media push saying, "We saw you with W.A.S.P., you were awesome, good to see you're going again." With getting this album done we need to push over here now. There are people that have heard of us so we need to re-connect with those people and get them to come and check us out again. It will happen, we're not going to leave the U.K. alone and concentrate on Mainland Europe because it's where we live, it's easier for us to tour over here than Europe. There will be shows next year, it just depends on how well the album does.

The song 'No Place For Heaven' is a wonderful duet, how did that develop?

Again, it's purely the Sascha connection. Cloudy Yang, who sang with Dale, is the Avantasia vocalist on their last single 'Sleepwalking'. She lives close to Sascha in Wolfsburg. Years ago she was in a band but something went horribly wrong in terms of the record label and it put her off the music industry and she's now a Primary School teacher. They coerced her to come out of retirement to do 'Sleepwalking'. 'No Place For Heaven' was written with a duet in mind and Sascha asked Cloudy to sing on it and she jumped at the chance. It is the lyric video for the album. I would have loved to have it as the single but the issue you've got is you need to able to perform your single live and we couldn't replicate the female voice live, unless we get Henning to wear a skirt!


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